When Essex won the County Championship in 2017 it was mentioned that it was the first time the county had won the title without having Graham Gooch in the side. Paul Dyson asks how his six winners medals compares with the best of Yorkshire. Photos of Rhodes and Sutcliffe are courtesy of Mick Pope.

From 1979 to 1992 Essex won the County Championship on six occasions – their first six such titles – and Graham Gooch was a member of all six squads. Although this may be a significant achievement as far as Essex – and several other counties – is concerned it is exactly half of the number of winners medals won by the best of Yorkshire as the following shows..


Championship Medals Seasons Played
W Rhodes 1898-1930 12 29
H Sutcliffe 1919-39 12 21
M Leyland 1920-46 12 21
GH Hirst 1891-1921 10 27
D Denton 1894-1920 9 23

Several players gained eight medals but these are the top five.

The number of appearances by Maurice Leyland, George Hirst and David Denton in their first seasons were minimal but Yorkshire did not win the title until each of the trio, coincidentally, were in their third seasons. This, however, is definitely not the case with Wilfred Rhodes and Herbert Sutcliffe. Not only did Yorkshire win the title in each of their debut seasons but both made very significant contributions.

May,1898 was the month and Bath the venue for one of the most remarkable debuts in all first-class cricket. Against Somerset Wilfred Rhodes had the astonishing match figures of 13 for 45. It was the first game of the season and he played in every one of Yorkshire’s 26 competitive matches coming top of the national Championship averages with 126 wickets at 13.84. On 11 occasions he took five or more wickets in an innings and three times took ten or more wickets in a match. His seven for 24 in the first innings at Bath remained his best for the season but at Dewsbury against Leicestershire he conceeded a mere 25 runs in 30 overs while also collecting five wickets. His mastery of flight, line and length were there for all to see in a most amazing first season.

The First World War delayed the debuts of several players and Herbert Sutcliffe was aged 24 when he first represented Yorkshire in 1919. Like Rhodes he also played in the first game of the season and this was also in the south-west but at Gloucester rather than Bath. However, Sutcliffe scored only 11 in his one innings and it was not until his 18th match that he scored a century. In his innings of 145 he was accompanied by Percy Holmes as fellow-opening batsman, the pair having begun their association three weeks earlier, in a stand of 279 – the first of their 69 century partnerships for Yorkshire. Sutcliffe scored four more centuries in 1919 and finished with 1,601 runs at 48.51 in the Championship – his aggregate and average were the best for his county that season. As with Rhodes, he played in all of Yorkshire’s 26 Championship matches.

Is it possible that Yorkshire could once again unearth such talent as could make such significant contributions to the county winning the Championship in their debut seasons?

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